At the recent Inman Connect conference, Fathom Realty sponsored a series of Learning Labs on Branding hosted by Fathom’s Chief Brand Officer, Wendy Forsythe. Below is the summary of the learning lab’s key takeaways and strategies for building your brand.
Here is the first of the three Learning Labs:
You are a Brand. Now Act Like It.
What is a brand? A brand is an emotional thing; it’s a gut feeling that somebody has about a product or service. In real estate, it’s a hunch that somebody has about you. You are a brand.
Individuals define a brand, not companies, not markets, logos, color schemes, or web sites. Each person reacts to a particular brand based on their understanding and trust in the value proposition. As a real estate professional, you are also your brand manager. Brand management isn’t about data and facts. It’s about managing other people’s opinions and their experiences with you – buyers, sellers, fellow agents, friends, and so forth. You, alone, are the manager of your real estate brand, and branding has shifted.
It’s not the same now as it was years ago. In the past, branding focused on features and benefits. We would write lengthy biographies about our positive attributes, our trustworthiness, our community expertise, and about real estate as real estate professionals and how that benefited our clients. Today, we need to differentiate our brand by focusing on top-notch service. If we continue to do business the same way as every other agent, how do we truly set ourselves apart? How does the client know how we are different? There are three brand-building philosophies or building blocks, as we often call them:
What should I call my brand?
A great place to begin building your brand strategy is with your name. You want people to remember you, and one of the most cost-effective, fastest ways to build your brand is to create it around your name. As you build your brand, the goal is to connect your name with real estate so that when the audience thinks about real estate, they think of you.
Where does my broker fit in?
According to state guidelines, we must advertise ourselves and identify our brokerage company appropriately. Once we’ve met those guidelines, there may also be specific identity standards or policies that your broker requires. Finding a broker that allows you to build upon your own personal brand is essential to current branding strategies. Today’s modern brokers understand that you are the star of your real estate story. If they play a supporting role, collectively, we win, but ensure that you know how that will fit together in your branding strategy.
What does your brand stand for?
Branding should be a discussion-drivable set of ideas about what you are, who you are, and how you tick. A brand is not static; it is a living, breathing thing. It happens in every business interaction we do, and it happens to every decision you make. A brand is not just about marketing materials; it’s about so much more than that.
Panelist Billy Nunez, Director of Culture for Fathom Realty, brought up the importance of remembering branding links to who agents are as people. “Agents forget that they are their billboard. When we talk about being consistent with your brand…it’s not just about what’s on your card; it’s not just about what you present to the community. It’s actually what you live and what they hear and what they see.”
Nancy Robinson, the Chief Growth Officer for Corcoran Global Living, stressed being aware of how your personal and professional lives merge as a real estate agent. “If you want to be known as the consummate professional you are, then you need to act like it, dress like it, post like it. What am I projecting out there, whether it is a social media post, or a direct mail piece, or your website?”
Tyler Coon, Co-Founder of Haven Homes in Asheville, points out that “so many people come into real estate and they think about ‘What should my name be? What should the colors be? What should my logo look like?’ and those are important, but I think a bigger thing to look at is what is your brand identity? Who are you? And what story do you tell?” Tyler recommends setting aside time to do a brand audit because your brand “isn’t just what you are, but it’s the experience that people have with you. We like to think of closing a transaction as the start of a relationship with a client.”
Make sure you check out the upcoming second Learning Lab in our series, Three Branding Breakthroughs for 2021.